Welcome!

You will be redirected in 30 seconds or close now.

ColdFusion Authors: Yakov Fain, Jeremy Geelan, Maureen O'Gara, Nancy Y. Nee, Tad Anderson

Related Topics: ColdFusion

ColdFusion: Article

Be Extremely Graphic

Be Extremely Graphic

More ColdFusion applications are running on intranets and extranets than just about anywhere else. This is not surprising - as ColdFusion makes data access and reporting so simple it is a natural fit for applications in these environments. And, as such, data reporting is one area that ColdFusion 5 addresses head-on with the introduction of a true graphing engine.

ColdFusion Graphing
ColdFusion developers have always wanted a way to graph data. And so back in Cold-Fusion 2 days, a series of Java applets were introduced to simplify the creation of common business graphs (pie charts, bar charts, etc.). These worked, but they had some serious limitations:

  • They were Java applets, and as such were not supported by all browsers.
  • They suffered from long download times and poor performance.
  • They could not be printed easily.
ColdFusion 5 solves the graphing problem in a very different way. Included with ColdFusion 5 is a version of Macromedia Generator - a high-performance, scalable, and proven graphics generation engine. Generator is designed to create dynamic images in a variety of formats using templates that are processed in real time.

And Generator does not need any client-side software because the file formats it creates are standard formats like JPEG (which are supported by all browsers automatically) - the only exception to this is Flash, the use of which is optional (although with over 96% of all browsers supporting Flash it is pretty standard too).

Now before you ask, no, you cannot (yet) extend or enhance the graphing features exposed to ColdFusion. Yes, Generator can do much more than has been made available at this time, and, at some point in the future, there likely will be a way to better utilize more of Generator within ColdFusion. But for now you have to use the charts and graphs explicitly defined in ColdFusion - and, fortunately, they'll do most of what you need, as you are about to see.

The <CFGRAPH> Tag
As you have come to expect of ColdFusion, the way you create graphs is by using a tag. And as you've also come to expect, that tag is intuitively named <CFGRAPH>. This seemingly simple tag hides all the complexity of creating all sorts of business graphs and charts with all sorts of options and features.

But instead of telling you about <CFGRAPH>, let's look at an example. Figure 1 shows a simple bar chart showing the relative prices of items for sale. (All of the data in these examples are taken from the databases and example applications in my new ColdFusion 5 Web Application Construction Kit.)

The code I used to create the graph is in Listing 1.

First I retrieved data with a basic <CFQUERY> - the query name is Merchandise, and the two columns retrieved are MerchName and MerchPrice. To create the graph, all I had to do was pass that data to <CFGRAPH> - QUERY takes the name of the query to be used, TYPE specifies the graph type (BAR, PIE, AREA, etc.), ITEMCOLUMN takes the name of the query column to use as the item name, and VALUECOLUMN takes the name of the column containing the value to use. Simple as that, and ColdFusion does the rest.

Note: ITEMCOLUMN and VALUECOLUMN take column names, not values, so don't place pound signs around the column names.

So what did that tag actually do? In Listing 2 is the code that was embedded in the generated output. I know it looks a little complex, but that is because it is invoking the Flash player so as to display the above graph in Flash format. In other words, the four lines of ColdFusion code in Listing 1 generated and embedded Flash content - without you having to learn anything about Flash.

And, no, you are not limited to generating Flash-based graphs. <CFGRAPH> can also generate JPEG and PNG images (not GIF though, sorry). But as I did not specify a format in my <CFGRAPH> tag, the default format was used, and the default is Flash.

Lots of Options
The previous example used a minimal set of options and attributes. This next example, in Listing 3, is quite the other extreme, using all sorts of attributes (far more than you'd typically use, but it helps make a point).

Again, I started with a <CF-QUERY>, this time retrieving recent items sold and a count of each. Then comes the <CFGRAPH> tag. The type is specified as PIE, the query name is provided; the format is set to "jpg" (otherwise the default of Flash would have been used); and explicit height and widths are specified along with background and border colors, border size, and 3D depth. And finally, label font and size, title text and font, and legend position and font are specified. The end result is seen in Figure 2.

As you can see, <CFGRAPH> is very flexible and highly configurable. And the Tag Editor seen in Figure 3 (available for ColdFusion Studio 4.5x as well as in ColdFusion Studio 5 when it is available) makes using these attributes a breeze.

Data Drill-Down
One other very important feature that I must mention is the ability to generate graphs that support data drill-down - that is, click on a pie slice or chart bar and go to a URL that provides additional (or more detailed) information.

<CFGRAPH> does not do this automatically, but it does provide a simple mechanism for associating URLs with graph components. Using this you can create your own drill-down interfaces by simply passing the URL of the next chart or graph to go to (see Listing 4).

This time the query retrieves a list of directors, and what they have been paid (converted into thousands by a division in the SELECT statement itself). The <CFGRAPH> tag is similar to the ones seen previously, although this one provides explicit colors (instead of using the defaults).

The important changes here are the last two attributes. URL takes the URL to go to if you click on a pie slice. But if the same URL is used for all slices, how would you know which slice was clicked? That's where the URLCOLUMN attribute comes in to play. It takes the name of a column, the value of which is appended to the URL specified in URL.

Here "details.cfm?- Name=" is the URL, and Name (whatever value is in column Name) is the URLCOLUMN. So, if the name were "Ben Forta" the generated URL for that slice would be "details.cfm?-Name=Ben+Forta". In other words, a unique URL is created for each slice by combining the fixed URL and a dynamic query column (see Figure 4).

Data drill-down is a valuable <CFGRAPH> feature, but it is important to note that it's available only when using Flash as the FORMAT (and not with JPG or PNG).

For Even Greater Control
You might have been wondering why <CFGRAPH> has a matching </CFGRAPH> tag. Well, this is why - <CFGRAPH> has a child tag named <CFGRAPHDATA> that can be used to explicitly populate graphs with data (without using the QUERY attribute). For example, the following creates a pie chart containing four pie slices:

<!--- Create graph --->
<CFGRAPH TYPE="pie">
<!--- Pie slices --->
<CFGRAPHDATA ITEM="G" VALUE="7">
<CFGRAPHDATA ITEM="PG" VALUE="28">
<CFGRAPHDATA ITEM="PG13" VALUE="16">
<CFGRAPHDATA ITEM="R" VALUE="31">
</CFGRAPH>

Of course, you can also use <CF-GRAPHDATA> to populate a graph with query data - to do this simply use a <CFLOOP> to loop through the query results and then call <CF-GRAPHDATA> for reach row like this:

<!--- Create graph --->
<CFGRAPH TYPE="bar">
<!--- Loop through data --->
<CFLOOP QUERY="Directors">
<!--- Add item to graph --->
<CFGRAPHDATA ITEM="#Name#" VALUE="#Paid#">
</CFLOOP>
</CFGRAPH>

Why would you ever want to do this? There are three primary reasons:

  1. <CFGRAPHDATA> takes an optional URL attribute that you can use to specify a totally unique URL for each data point (as opposed to using a single URL with just a different query string).
  2. <CFGRAPHDATA> takes an optional COLOR attribute that you can use for greater color control.
  3. By passing data manually to graphs you can use CFML formatting functions and other programmatic functions to manipulate the data as needed.
You don't have to use <CFGRAPHDATA> if you don't want to, but it's nice to know it's there when you need it.

Summary
<CFGRAPH> is one of the most exciting new features in ColdFusion 5, and one that is built on top of a proven and scalable product - Macromedia Generator. With multiple graph types, three output formats, and dozens of configuration options, <CFGRAPH> proves once again that Macromedia and the ColdFusion team know what developers want, and are deeply committed to providing it.

More Stories By Ben Forta

Ben Forta is Adobe's Senior Technical Evangelist. In that capacity he spends a considerable amount of time talking and writing about Adobe products (with an emphasis on ColdFusion and Flex), and providing feedback to help shape the future direction of the products. By the way, if you are not yet a ColdFusion user, you should be. It is an incredible product, and is truly deserving of all the praise it has been receiving. In a prior life he was a ColdFusion customer (he wrote one of the first large high visibility web sites using the product) and was so impressed he ended up working for the company that created it (Allaire). Ben is also the author of books on ColdFusion, SQL, Windows 2000, JSP, WAP, Regular Expressions, and more. Before joining Adobe (well, Allaire actually, and then Macromedia and Allaire merged, and then Adobe bought Macromedia) he helped found a company called Car.com which provides automotive services (buy a car, sell a car, etc) over the Web. Car.com (including Stoneage) is one of the largest automotive web sites out there, was written entirely in ColdFusion, and is now owned by Auto-By-Tel.

Comments (3) View Comments

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


Most Recent Comments
Jeff 01/09/03 12:29:00 PM EST

I am creating an ecomm. site. I have a situation. If a user has opted to purchase 2 items and then once the user gets to the confirmation page the user decide that he / she would like to purchase 4 items instead of 2. Can this page be dynamically upadate without the use of an update button. ie. the page refreshes once the user changes the amount

NAJIH 12/09/02 11:13:00 AM EST

Hello

I am in france .

I want to programme a

Bill Song 02/21/02 02:36:00 PM EST

We have a site with frames, left menu, right top logo, right bottom content, with graghics. When Mac user loading the page, it always spinning even after the loading of the left menu which is larger in size than the right part. Actually, that part does not load until the user hit stop button or another link then click home page button. The web server is NT, and the ie browser is 4.5 for Mac. Any solution? pls help. Thanks.

@ThingsExpo Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that Progress, a global leader in application development, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Enterprises today are rapidly adopting the cloud, while continuing to retain business-critical/sensitive data inside the firewall. This is creating two separate data silos – one inside the firewall and the other outside the firewall. Cloud ISVs ofte...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Systena America will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Systena Group has been in business for various software development and verification in Japan, US, ASEAN, and China by utilizing the knowledge we gained from all types of device development for various industries including smartphones (Android/iOS), wireless communication, security technology and IoT serv...
DevOps at Cloud Expo – being held October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA – announces that its Call for Papers is open. Born out of proven success in agile development, cloud computing, and process automation, DevOps is a macro trend you cannot afford to miss. From showcase success stories from early adopters and web-scale businesses, DevOps is expanding to organizations of all sizes, including the world's largest enterprises – and delivering real r...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Hitachi Data Systems, a wholly owned subsidiary of Hitachi LTD., will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City. Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) will be featuring the Hitachi Content Platform (HCP) portfolio. This is the industry’s only offering that allows organizations to bring together object storage, file sync and share, cloud storage gateways, and sophisticated search and...
The 21st International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Digital Transformation, Machine Learning and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding busin...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Technologic Systems Inc., an embedded systems solutions company, will exhibit at SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Technologic Systems is an embedded systems company with headquarters in Fountain Hills, Arizona. They have been in business for 32 years, helping more than 8,000 OEM customers and building over a hundred COTS products that have never been discontinued. Technologic Systems’ pr...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Carbonite will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Carbonite protects your entire IT footprint with the right level of protection for each workload, ensuring lower costs and dependable solutions with DoubleTake and Evault.
New competitors, disruptive technologies, and growing expectations are pushing every business to both adopt and deliver new digital services. This ‘Digital Transformation’ demands rapid delivery and continuous iteration of new competitive services via multiple channels, which in turn demands new service delivery techniques – including DevOps. In this power panel at @DevOpsSummit 20th Cloud Expo, moderated by DevOps Conference Co-Chair Andi Mann, panelists will examine how DevOps helps to meet th...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Progress, a global leader in application development, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Enterprises today are rapidly adopting the cloud, while continuing to retain business-critical/sensitive data inside the firewall. This is creating two separate data silos – one inside the firewall and the other outside the firewall. Cloud ISVs oft...
SYS-CON Events announced today that CollabNet, a global leader in enterprise software development, release automation and DevOps solutions, will be a Bronze Sponsor of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, taking place from June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. CollabNet offers a broad range of solutions with the mission of helping modern organizations deliver quality software at speed. The company’s latest innovation, the DevOps Lifecycle Manager (DLM), supports Value S...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloudistics, an on-premises cloud computing company, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Cloudistics delivers a complete public cloud experience with composable on-premises infrastructures to medium and large enterprises. Its software-defined technology natively converges network, storage, compute, virtualization, and management into a ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Ocean9will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Ocean9 provides cloud services for Backup, Disaster Recovery (DRaaS) and instant Innovation, and redefines enterprise infrastructure with its cloud native subscription offerings for mission critical SAP workloads.
Multiple data types are pouring into IoT deployments. Data is coming in small packages as well as enormous files and data streams of many sizes. Widespread use of mobile devices adds to the total. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists will look at the tools and environments that are being put to use in IoT deployments, as well as the team skills a modern enterprise IT shop needs to keep things running, get a handle on all this data, and deli...
We build IoT infrastructure products - when you have to integrate different devices, different systems and cloud you have to build an application to do that but we eliminate the need to build an application. Our products can integrate any device, any system, any cloud regardless of protocol," explained Peter Jung, Chief Product Officer at Pulzze Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA
DevOps is often described as a combination of technology and culture. Without both, DevOps isn't complete. However, applying the culture to outdated technology is a recipe for disaster; as response times grow and connections between teams are delayed by technology, the culture will die. A Nutanix Enterprise Cloud has many benefits that provide the needed base for a true DevOps paradigm.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Infranics will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Since 2000, Infranics has developed SysMaster Suite, which is required for the stable and efficient management of ICT infrastructure. The ICT management solution developed and provided by Infranics continues to add intelligence to the ICT infrastructure through the IMC (Infra Management Cycle) based on mathemat...
SYS-CON Events announced today that HTBase will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. HTBase (Gartner 2016 Cool Vendor) delivers a Composable IT infrastructure solution architected for agility and increased efficiency. It turns compute, storage, and fabric into fluid pools of resources that are easily composed and re-composed to meet each application’s needs. With HTBase, companies can quickly prov...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with the 21st International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. @ThingsExpo Silicon Valley Call for Papers is now open.
SYS-CON Events announced today that SoftLayer, an IBM Company, has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York, New York. SoftLayer, an IBM Company, provides cloud infrastructure as a service from a growing number of data centers and network points of presence around the world. SoftLayer’s customers range from Web startups to global enterprises.
SYS-CON Events announced today that T-Mobile will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. As America's Un-carrier, T-Mobile US, Inc., is redefining the way consumers and businesses buy wireless services through leading product and service innovation. The Company's advanced nationwide 4G LTE network delivers outstanding wireless experiences to 67.4 million customers who are unwilling to compromise on ...